Sanjay, 24, member of Kanjar
community in Mainpuri, has not been in the best of terms with the law and the
locals, as his community carries the stigma of being a criminal tribe. Traditionally
BSP supporters, Sanjay is happy that Mayawati has joined forces with Mulayam Singh
in this Yadav stronghold.
Mainpuri has been a Yadav bastion for as long as elections
were held here. The Yadav community rules the roost in this region. From top to
bottom in administration and also among (Samajwadi) Party office bearers, their
writ runs. Whether you need a job, or a government scheme favour, or even lodge
a police complaint in the local Thana
(station), one has to plead before their leaders.
Our community also votes for Neta ji (Mulayam Singh Yadav). We fully support Samajwadi Party. Yes
there are some in our family, who support Behanji
(Mayawati) because she has worked to get us some self-respect in society.
During her rule in Uttar Pradesh – between 2007 and 2012 – many of us got pucca
houses, some were able to buy and set up shops in the market with their
savings. Otherwise, most caste Hindus do not have business dealings with us. I
don’t know why, nor do I any longer bother. We are happy with our lives.
I studied till Class VII then dropped out we needed more hands to work and livelihood. I am happy, we have our own house, and we get odd jobs to see us through. But during the time of notebandi (demonetization), we had to keep the hearth burning on borrowed ration. Those two-three months were horrible. There was no work for us. Even when we got work the wages were not paid. Everybody was cursing (Narendra) Modi here. Things are better now.
It has been a great relief that Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav
have joined hands. Many Yadav leaders suspect us to be BSP supporters and
refuse to help us. With the gathbandhan
(SP-BSP alliance), there is no reason for (Samajwadi) Party leaders to look at
us with suspicion. We just hope this alliance survive. Rest, time will tell.
Although Mohammad Israr, 49, attended the Congress rally at Saharanpur on April 8, he calls himself an observer than a party supporter. He believes Muslims must see which way the wind is blowing and vote tactically to defeat the communal forces. And he has valid reasons to back his belief:
I am just
an observer to this rally (Congress public meeting on April 8) since I happened
to be in the vicinity. I can judge the support of Muslim community to Imran
Masood. He is a very popular leader in the community because of his fierce
comments against (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi. Mazloomo ki aawaz hain (he is the voice of the oppressed).
opinion, Imran sahib is likely to win, even though the joint candidate from the
Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj is also Hazi (Fazulrahman)
sahib. A day or two before, there was gathbandhan
(the SP-BSP alliance) rally which was also attended by many Muslim voters. And
I was worried a little that two Muslim candidates would mean division of votes.
The Muslim voter must not allow its voter strength to be wasted. Taqseem nahi hona hai, taqseem karne waali
taaqaton ko harana hai (we must not get divided; instead we have to defeat
the divisive forces).
leaders must guide the votes not to get carried away by punchy slogans and
promises made in a rally. Once the results come, these leaders will forget what
they had promised before the public. Similarly, a voter or a quom (community) also has to keep its
self-interest in mind. BJP rule in the last five years have instilled a feeling
of fear among the minority community.
before were so many cases of cow vigilante had come. Muslims and many low-caste
Hindu brothers lost their jobs after a crackdown on abattoirs in Uttar Pradesh.
There were so many incidents of lynching on false pretext. Such incidents send
a wrong signal to the minority community. We get worried when our children
travel to other states on their own.
Vajpayee ki sarakar and Kalyan Singh ki sarkar, this fear never visited our
minds. But the last five years have been traumatic. And with Yogi sarkar in UP now, things have only got
worse. You should see the bike rallies by men wearing saffron headgears. They
deliberately shout slogans whenever a mosque comes en route. Their sole purpose
is to humiliate Muslims. Ask anyone. This is a universal feeling and a regular
point of discussion in our community.
understand Muslims are used as votebanks. But do we have any other option than
not to unitedly help a candidate who would listen to us, help us in getting our
police complaints registered, give us protection or at least a sense of
protection. Self-interest is back in the game. That is why you are not hearing
the slogan sabka saath, sabka vikas
this year. Are you?
(Name of the narrator was changed
and his face blurred on request)